Skiing in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole’s ski area is famous for its truly steep and challenging terrain – most notably, the resort’s iconic Corbet’s Couloir. Access to the mountain is concentrated within a central base in Teton Village, and similarly all the trails flow down back to the same area, making it easy to navigate. There are also two other resorts nearby, Grand Targhee and Snowking, which are both excellent hills in their own right.

Jackson Hole Ski Area Overview

The ski area covers 2,500 acres (1,012 ha) and has one of North America’s biggest vertical drops (4,139 feet/1,262 m). But more important than the size of the drop is how steeply it descends: much of the in-bounds terrain makes even accomplished skiers think twice, with 50 percent of the mountain designated for experts, 40 percent for intermediates, and 10 percent for beginners. Although even the intermediate terrain is steeper than similarly designated trails at other big mountain resorts, Jackson still has something for everyone – from rock-lined chutes and steep bowls to wide-open, rolling groomers and cruisers.

Probably the most famous single trail at Jackson Hole is Corbet’s Couloir. Depending on the snow pack, skiing Corbet’s requires jumping upwards of 20 feet off an ice cornice, followed by making a couple of quick turns before safely reaching the wide-open remainder of the run. Those standing on the left side of the aerial tram as it ascends to the top of Rendezvous Mountain get a bird’s eye view of the chute, and those who traverse into the base the Tensleep Bowl get a bottom’s up view of the bravest skiers on the hill. Although Corbet’s is the most famous steep and challenging run at Jackson, it is certainly not the only run of its kind at the resort; virtually every part of the mountainside between the major trails can be skied, giving expert skiers almost unlimited rocks and cliffs off which to jump, huck or send it.

Although snowmaking only covers 6 percent of the area, quite a low share by big mountain standards, the mountain gets an average annual snowfall of 459 inches (1,166 cm), which is enough to keep conditions good when average out over the entire season. Late season conditions on the lower mountain, like similar Western resorts, will be heavy and sticky, but there is often plenty of snow remaining on the hill for closing in early April.

There are essentially seven main areas to ski:

1. Rendezvous Mountain: only accessible via the Aerial Tram (9 minutes, 100 person capacity, covering the mountain’s full 4,139 vertical rise). Get here for access to Rendezvous bowl, extensive backcountry areas, all of Sublette’s terrain, and most importantly, Corbet’s Cabin, which serves quite possibly the best waffles in North America. There are actually two trams that run concurrently (one goes up as the other comes down), reducing overall wait times. Although if you’re standing on the snowpack outside the tram building, you’ll be waiting for at least 3 trams to pass before you get on, so unless you absolutely must ski Rendezvous Bowl, you might be better off taking Bridger to Thunder to get to the bottom of Sublette.

2. Sublette: generally the most expert terrain on the hill, ranging from the wide open Laramie, Cheyene and Bernie Bowls, to the famous Alta Chutes and the interminable Hobacks. When there’s powder, this is the place to play, but the lift itself is a bit slow (just over 8 minutes at top speed covering 1,630 ft) and is frequently subject to wind-holds in nasty weather.

3. Thunder: not only is Thunder the newest lift on the hill (opened in 2022), but it is also generally the most popular as it gives access to a nice variety of advanced and intermediate terrain. At the top there is an entrance to Laramie Bowl on one side, and expert chutes on the other. The high-speed quad takes just under 4 minutes to rise 1,454 ft so while lift lines may often appear long, it moves quickly.

4. Bridger: accessible via the Bridger Gondola from the base and by taking Marmot, a slow double chair just skier’s right from the Thunder chair). The top of Bridger is generally the central part of the mountain, giving skiers access to a few dining options within Rendezvous Lodge, and as well as easy traverses to get to both more expert and more intermediate terrain. When maximizing the 8-person cabins, Bridger can move 2,400 people per hour up 2,730 ft in just over 7 minutes.

5. Casper: this is a great area to spend some time, as the lift takes only 3.4 minutes to rise over 1,000 ft. Lap the groomed blues and dip-into the trees in-between trails, followed by warming up by the fire at Casper Lodge with a burger and a couple of jell-o shots.

6. Teton: gives access to mostly intermediate / advanced intermediate terrain, including the large gladed area, Moran Face. The high-speed quad covers 1,722 ft in just 4.1 minutes, making it another fun area to gain a lot of vert in one day.

7. Apres-Vous aka “AV”: a true favorite of locals, this area is often overlooked by visitors who think that the left side of the trail map is where the real action is. But don’t be fooled, this is where the best groomers are, in addition to some of the best tree skiing on the hill within Saratoga Bowl, so should definitely not be missed on a powder.

Special call out for the Hobacks, as they aren’t really a lift-accessible area in the same way as the others, although they do take up a significant amount of the trail map. The Hobacks are something you can love one day, and absolutely hate the next. Once you go past the blue Rendezvous Trail, you’re locked into roughly 2,000 ft of steeps and bumps. That’s right, no runouts, traverses or groomed sections to use as a bailout. Once you’re in, you’re in, so choose wisely based on the day’s conditions.

Dust on crust, refreeze, or several days without fresh snow will make the journey down one to remember, but not for the right reasons. Best to wait for a powder day or when the snow is soft from top to bottom, and it will be one of the best runs of your trip. If you don’t know what to expect, ask a local, staff member, or a patroller for advice. The Hobacks are also the only area that doesn’t return skiers to the main base, but rather to the fixed-grip Moose-Creek quad, which will get you back to the Village in about 5 minutes.

Beginner Skiing in Jackson Hole

At Jackson Hole, novice skiers don’t have many opportunities. Just 10 percent of the terrain is designated suitable for beginners and groups of mainly novice skiers will be disappointed by the lack of variety in Jackson Hole’s beginner terrain as well as its limited extent. Beginners would be better visiting another resort.

A further drawback is that all the novice terrain is at the lowest altitudes and is likely to suffer if there’s a shortage of snow. However, Jackson Hole’s renowned Mountain Sports School prides itself on teaching skiers of all ability levels and beginners visiting Jackson Hole as part of a larger group will be pleased with the quality of its first-timer and beginner programs.

Jackson Hole’s only pod of beginner terrain is found off the Sweetwater Gondola (get off at the mid-station), and the Eagle’s Rest and Teewinot chairlifts. With a very gentle slope, beginners will be pleased to learn that the green runs at Jackson Hole are not harder than average, unlike Jackson’s well-earned reputation for expert runs which are more challenging than its peers.

The beginner lift ticket does give access to the green terrain at very good value. Moving to blue trails gives a choice of tame link trails traversing the mountain or more serious intermediate terrain, with very little in between for progressing beginners.

Moreover, the imposing steeps above can be scary for even seasoned novice skiers. Toss in Jackson Hole’s hardcore atmosphere that is geared towards pro-level freeskiers and many beginners simply prefer to head elsewhere. Beginners may also enjoy a day trip to nearby Grand Targhee, which offers more gentle terrain. The “Targhee Express” shuttle bus operated by Jackson Hole AllTrans leaves directly from Teton Village. Grand Targhee’s less intimidating terrain makes for a great one day hiatus from the more challenging steeps of Jackson Hole.  

Intermediate Skiing in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole’s intermediate skiing is overshadowed by the resort’s legendary steeps, but intermediate skiers still have plenty to explore at Jackson Hole.

Although intermediates would perhaps be ill-advised to try skiing from the top of the Tram, they can still access enough of Jackson Hole to make a trip to the resort worth it. Around 40 percent of the terrain is considered intermediate, with blue or double blues available from nearly all lifts (the Tram is the only exception), giving intermediates a taste of big mountain skiing and, therefore, a true taste of Jackson,. However, a willingness to (sensibly) explore the mountain rather than simply following the trail map will only further enhance your experience.

Apres Vous Mountain provides much of the intermediate terrain, with its smooth groomers that allow skiers to cruise through wide slopes. There are also opportunities for low-risk tree skiing between groomed trails and along the rope of Saratoga bowl, as well as amazing views of the valley below.

There are more blue trails accessible from Bridger Gondola, the longest of these being Gros Ventre and Sundance Gully, each having roughly 2,700 vertical feet (823 m) of descent. A total of 22 miles (35 km) of Jackson Hole is groomed, and there are grooming maps available (both via the Jackson Hole app and on billboards throughout the resort) which explain the state of the trails each day.

For stronger intermediates, there’s also the northern side of Laramie Bowl, probably the toughest skiing that could fall into this category. Bear in mind when venturing into backcountry terrain to pay attention to signs and markers to avoid getting ‘’cliffed out’.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole’s advanced and expert skiing is chock full of crazy chutes, moguls, steeps, deeps, and trees, making it one of the world’s best ski areas for expert skiers. In short, Jackson Hole lives up to the hype…

Jackson Hole Expert Skiing 660X260

Jackson Hole has a well-deserved reputation for having much of North America’s most expert ski terrain and it truly deserves the expert category, as distinct from “advanced”. The steepness of the mountains, their size, and the fact that so much of it is in-bounds, means that a lot of skiing is packed into the area. Around half of Jackson Hole’s trails are black or double black. There are crazy chutes, moguls, steeps, deeps, trees, and thousands of acres of backcountry.

If you’re a strong skier or snowboarder, Rendezvous Mountain, via the Tram, is a must-do, whether you’re in it for the skiing, the waffles at Corbet’s Cabin, or just the views. The Rendezvous Bowl can be fantastic as it’s wide and clear of obstacles, allowing skiers to let rip without fear. Whether you choose to ski Corbet’s Couloir, or simply heckle others into doing so, it’s worth a look.

Corbet’s infamy stems from the view from the Tram as much as anything: seeing skiers from above making the ten- or twenty-foot leap (it depends on your point of entry) from the cornice into a 50-degree couloir is the closest many people get to this kind of skiing. The nearby expert chutes from Thunder quad are part cliff, part steep chute and forgive very few mistakes.

Corbet’s infamy stems from the view from the Tram as much as anything: seeing skiers from above making the ten- or twenty-foot leap (it depends on your point of entry) from the cornice into a 50-degree couloir is the closest many people get to this kind of skiing. The nearby expert chutes from Thunder quad are part cliff, part steep chute and forgive very few mistakes.

On a powder day, Sublette is generally the place to lap, with both wide open bowls and narrow chutes and trees accessible from the chair. When the powder is fresh and fluffy, the Hobacks, a collection of bowls to the extremeskier’s right, are not to be missed, just remember once you go past Rendezvous trail, there’s no turning back, so pay attention to the conditions.

From the Sublette quad, Laramie Bowl and the steep Alta Chutes are easy to find and can be skied without returning to base each time. Likewise, for bump trails, the area served by the Thunder quad allows high-level skiing even if it hasn’t snowed for a while. Teton’s Moran Woods and Apres Vous’ Saratoga Bowl are also expert areas that are worth a lap or two or three.

While most of the hikeable terrain starts from backcountry gates, there is one in-bounds that should not be missed when conditions are right. Go skiers right off the Sublette chair, taking Tensleep to the Headwall. This hike is roughly 15 minutes, more or less depending on fitness level, and gives you access to both the Headwall and eventually the Casper Bowl (if you keep traversing and hiking here and there).

The Casper Bowl, parts of which are known as The Crags, provides roughly 200 acres and 1,000 vertical feet of expert terrain located above the Casper Lift area. Bowls, chutes and tree skiing are all accessible via the Headwall “Stairway to Heaven” or from the top of Après Vous. For an averagely fit skier the hike will range in length between 25-35 minutes. The Crags is snow controlled and has an opening schedule based on weather conditions.

Boarding in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole snowboarders are drawn to the resort for its aggressive natural terrain and world class snow conditions.

Jackson is as much a mecca for expert snowboarders as it is for skiers. There is a terrain park and halfpipe at the base of Après Vous mountain, but the real draw is the natural terrain and the snow conditions.

Snowboarders should be aware that much like Alta, some of the traverses are tough on snowboarders because they are flat. Maintaining speed through upgrades is difficult and riders should be comfortable on narrow catwalks.

On-Mountain Dining in Jackson Hole

Corbet’s Cabin

At the top of the Rendezvous, only accessible via the Aerial Tram, sits Corbet’s Cabin – a small building with about 5 tables and mountains of batter and brown sugar butter. Order the Trad with a side of nutella while you debate whether or not to attempt Corbet’s Couloir or take an easier (and safer) way down.

Piste Mountain Bistro

Dead center of the trail map at the top of Bridger Gondola, sits Piste Mountain Bistro – a high end dining experience with food just as excellent as the excellent views. Access to Piste requires either a lift ticket, or sightseeing ticket, plus proof of reservation.

Casper Restaurant

The food at Casper Restaurant is more typical of what you might find in on-mountain dining, with cafeteria-like stations serving burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads. The food is great, and the jell-o shots at the bar in the back make everything taste even better.

Backcountry Skiing in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole’s backcountry skiing, accessed by several gates around the resort, is big. Rock Springs, Cody, and Casper Bowls are the main areas. All this terrain requires that groups are properly equipped and, ideally, accompanied by a guide.

Hiring a guide for backcountry trips is not just a safe option, but the way to find the best snow and terrain suited to the group’s abilities. The terrain is not exclusively in the expert category, though it is peppered with natural hazards, requiring skiers to be able to operate in full control, whatever the conditions.

A backcountry yurt, just outside Jackson Hole’s resort boundary in lower Rock Springs Bowl, gives skiers the opportunity to experience a backcountry hut-and-ski touring trip without venturing too far off the beaten path. There is also heli-skiing available in the nearby Snake River Mountains with High Mountain Heli-skiing (307-733-3274).

Ski Areas Nearby Jackson Hole

There are two other ski areas nearby that are worth a visit if time permits:

Snow King 

Snow King is the town of Jackson’s local hill, and is not only the original ski resort in the area before the resort was built at the foothills of Grand Teton National Park, but is in fact the first ski resort in the state of Wyoming.

There are 500 acres (162 ha) of skiable terrain with 1,571 feet (479 m) of descent, some of which is lit for night skiing. A new back bowl area that opened for the 2022-2023 season added an extra 100 acres of in-bounds terrain, plus more lift-accessible backcountry acreage.

While Snow King’s mostly expert terrain does make it best suited for advanced skiers (just 25%of its acreage is for intermediates and 15%for beginners), since it doesn’t get the crowds that JHMR gets, it’s an excellent place for both experts and novices to have a quiet day to themselves.

Located less than one mile from Jackson Hole’s town square, or 13 miles from Teton Village. 

Read more: Utimate Ski Guide to Snow King > 

Grand Targhee 

About an hour (45 miles) from Jackson, weather on the Teton Pass permitting,sits one of the most beautiful ski resorts in North America, Grand Targhee. Targhee, or “the Ghee” as it’s known to locals, is famous for its powder and endless wide-open groomers.

On average, Targhee gets 25 percent more snowfall over the season than Jackson Hole but is nearly deserted for much of the time due to its more remote location. It has recently expanded its lift-served terrain to over 2,000 acres (809 ha) having replaced a former  cat-skiing operation with a new high speed six pack and making it easier to access to its unbelievable best powder.

Depending on the day, Targhee is ideal for keen intermediates to experience deep-snow skiing as the terrain is noticeably less steep than at Jackson. It is also a much friendlier place for beginners, with more extensive beginner terrain than both Jackson and Snow King.

Make sure to bring your low-light lenses for your goggles, as Targhee is mostly above the tree-line, and is frequently enshrouded by low clouds, earning the resort the name “Grand Foggee.”

However, on a blue-bird day, you will be treated to one of the most epic views at any resort in North America, with views of several other mountain ranges across three states, including the backside of Grand Teton just a few miles away as the crow flies.

If you can get across the Teton pass, it is absolutely worth a visit to ‘ski the Ghee’. Approximately 45 miles from both Teton Village and Jackson Hole’s town square.

Read more: Ultimate Ski Guide to Grand Targhee > 

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